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Peru2 May 2005

Peru’s ambassador to Spain slams car door into journalist during visit to Lima

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the action of Peru’s ambassador to Spain, Fernando Olivera Vega, in deliberately slamming a car door into Bettina Mendoza of CPN Radio during a working visit to Lima on 28 April.

"It is shocking to see a diplomat lose his self-control and use violence against a journalist who just wanted to interview him," the press freedom organization said. "Although Ambassador Olivera later apologized to her, he cannot continue to claim his action was not deliberate and we hope the foreign ministry will take appropriate sanctions."

Along with other journalists, Mendoza was covering Olivera’s visit to Lima on 28 April. Olivera emerged from a meeting in a hotel and was about to get into his car, which was parked on private property, when Mendoza tried to interview him as he opened one of the car’s doors.

Olivera lost his temper and slammed the door into Mendoza, seriously injuring ligaments in her right arm. As he drove away, he accused the other journalists of "invading private property." He also claimed the door hit Mendoza by accident, although video footage of the incident taken by one of the other journalists showed that it was deliberate.

Olivera contacted Mendoza a few hours later and apologized. At the same time he again insisted that the blow with the car door was accidental.

A plaster cast was put on Mendoza’s arm and she can no longer move her fingers normally. Her doctors said she would take two weeks to recover.

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